Coast Guard welcomes new commander for California operations

Rear Adm. Brian K. Penoyer replaced Rear Adm. Peter W. Gautier as commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District during a change-of-command ceremony presided over by Vice Adm. Linda L. Fagan on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., July 23, 2020. The change-of-command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that represents a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another. (U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Giles)

Rear Adm. Brian K. Penoyer replaced Rear Adm. Peter W. Gautier as commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District during a change-of-command ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., July 23, 2020. (U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Giles)

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Rear Adm. Brian K. Penoyer replaced Rear Adm. Peter W. Gautier as the 11th Coast Guard District commander Thursday during a change-of-command ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda.

Penoyer most recently served as the Coast Guard’s Force Readiness commander in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was responsible for the activity of 41 subordinate units across 17 states impacting every Coast Guard mission. Force Readiness Command delivers mission-ready forces through training doctrines, leadership development, readiness assessments, and major exercise support.

Penoyer has extensive operational experience with a specialty in coastal operations. He has served as the 14th Coast Guard District commander, where he directed all Coast Guard missions across the Central and South Pacific, an area spanning more than 12.2 million square miles, including the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, America Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, with additional activities in Singapore and Japan.

Prior to arriving to the 14th Coast Guard District, he served as commander of Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as the deputy chief of Coast Guard Congressional Affairs. He was the liaison in the office of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security during the Deepwater Horizon incident, deployed during Hurricane Katrina to Louisiana, and again during Hurricane Sandy to New York. Penoyer holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

“It is an honor assume command of the Eleventh District, which right now, is conducting boardings, inspections, investigations, interdicting migration, responding to pollution, lighting aids to navigation, guarding our critical infrastructure, saving lives, bringing victims home to their loved ones, disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations, and so very much more,” said Penoyer. “It’s our job to set the conditions for their continued success, on behalf of this nation.”

Gautier will serve as the Coast Guard Pacific Area deputy commander in Alameda, which oversees all Coast Guard missions from the Rocky Mountains to the waters off the east coast of Africa.

Gautier assumed command of the 11th Coast Guard District on June 28, 2018. Prior to that he served as the director of Governmental and Public Affairs where he was responsible for external engagement with congress, the media and other intergovernmental entities.

“California is a maritime state, blessed with ports and waterways and natural resources that power our nation’s economy, provide unmatched recreation, and present unique operational challenges” said Gautier. “Every one of us at the Eleventh District has been tested by these trying times, and our Coast Guard women and men, active duty, reserve, civilians, and auxiliary, thousands strong, led by finest commanding officers and officers in charge, staff and senior enlisted, have met every challenge exceptionally. I couldn’t have asked for better leaders to guide our district forward during my two years as district commander.”

The 11th District commander is responsible for Coast Guard roles and missions across 3.3 million square miles of the country including the states of California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona and the inland waters of lakes Powell, Tahoe, Meade, Havasu and Mojave. Responsibilities extend from the Mexico border across the eastern Pacific Ocean, where the Coast Guard counters transnational criminal threats, conducts the majority of its counternarcotics patrols and coordinates search and rescue.

Established in 1939, the 11th District employs approximately 2,400 active-duty, reserve, and civilian employees and comprises 43 units including sectors, air stations, buoy tenders, small-boat stations, patrol boats, aids-to-navigation teams, marine safety detachments and vessel traffic services.

The change-of-command ceremony is a time-honored tradition aboard ships and shore commands. It represents a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another. The event ensures the continuity of leadership and operations within the district’s area of responsibility.

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